This week on Intersection, we talk with Columbia Mayor Brian Treece about issues including downtown development, transportation and expanding the police force. Listen to the full episode and check out selected clips from the interview below.
Listen to the full interview:
Mayor Treece talks about city transportation.
Mayor Treece talks about downtown development.
A selected transcription from the interview.
Before the election, I know that downtown development was a huge issue. It's obviously something you're familiar with. And there's a perception among a lot of the people we've spoken with that downtown development is about students, and it's only good for students and that it's taxing the infrastructure for the rest of us. What's changed since your election as mayor in terms of downtown development?
Well, in fact I think it was those symptoms that propelled my victory in April, and that was one of the reasons at my first meeting I asked for an administrative delay to new development downtown, particularly those student-centric luxury high-rises that I do believe tax our infrastructure, that void opportunities for retail and small businesses in Columbia, that take up parking spaces for the rest of the community that wants to come downtown to Columbia to worship, to shop, to dine. And I thought it was important that we take a pause, take a deep breath, and look at what are those issues that we need to address head-on. And that was one of the reasons, obviously, we have the planning and zoning commission right now looking at a new downtown overlay to really update Columbia's zoning laws for the first time in 50 years.
I appointed a new chairman to the mayor's infrastructure task force to really look at who pays for the costs of the increased demand on our infrastructure like water and sewer and stormwater and electrical capacity. I created and appointed a new parking and traffic management task force to look at the demands of parking downtown. How can we provide ample parking opportunities, how can we incentivize private developers that are creating additional demand with 400, 500 beds at a time, many of whom will bring their cars with them to downtown Columbia to live. And then asking historic preservation to come up with a list of issues that can help us protect what's left of downtown.
Hopefully all four of those panels and task forces will bring their recommendations to council before the end of the year, before our administrative delay, our six-month temporary administrative delay expires so that we can really get it right. Because I know there's really a lot of demand. And I think what was important to me was that the city -- my concern was that the city was inadvertently contributing to a housing bubble downtown by subsidizing infrastructure, subsidizing parking requirements. And I want to make sure that if the enrollment at MU declines, that we're not left with a bunch of vacant, single-purpose-built luxury student high-rises that create additional demand on our infrastructure.